Going on a holiday in Naples with kids in tow? Are you worried that the city might be a bit “formal” and “old” for children? Incidentally, Naples’ Latin name, Neapolis, means “new city,” and many who come here to visit actually find the experience to be truly exciting. It really wouldn’t take long for bored or grumpy kids to realize that Naples is indeed a wonderful destination for a family vacation.
The city itself is almost 2,700 years old, but the surrounding environment is even much older, and geological features like Mount Vesuvius are very much part of the city’s unique character. The place is really a complete package, offering a chance for the kids to see and experience many things that are very different from what they are used to back home. Certainly, there are many world-class museums, elegant palazzi, and ancient churches in the city. But on top of these, children might be more eager to explore its other offerings, some of which we’ll look at on this list.
Città della Scienza
Want to have some good time with the children and help the city of Naples at the same time? Then begin your excursion at the Città della Scienza (City of Science) museum, which is still recovering from an arson attack that took place last March 2013. Aside from paying the entrance fee, you can also ask the museum personnel about giving donations for the rebuilding of the place.
While the main science center is still being built, this museum along Via Coroglio is currently hosting a handful of small exhibits, including a planetarium, an educational garden, a volcanoes exhibit, and an agricultural exhibit.
Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba
The modern pizza traces its roots to Naples, so what better place for a child to enjoy a slice of this delicacy than in this city? And to give your kids the ultimate bragging rights, take them to the Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Centro Antico, which is traditionally regarded as the first ever pizzeria in the world.
You may find their pizza to be just as yummy as those made by other pizza taverns in Naples, but their unique selling point is their being in business since 1738. Their ovens are also lined with lava rocks from the nearby Mount Vesuvius. How’s that for a bit of romance?
Pompeii and Herculaneum
Pompeii and Herculaneum were ancient Roman towns that have became famous for being destroyed and buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. The excavated cities offer a glimpse of Roman life in the 1st century, with many streets, houses, villas, baths, and temples still standing today. Here, kids will really be able to see for themselves how Roman cities looked like almost 2,000 years ago! The actual site of the Pompeii and Herculaneum ruins are reachable by train or by a short drive from central Naples, while a large number of artifacts from the cities are preserved at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Naples National Archaeological Museum).
You and your kids can take your Vesuvian exploration a step further by visiting the Virtual Pompeii exhibition, which is located along Via Plinio, near the Pompeii ruins. This educational entertainment center features a 3D projection room that allows kids to check out a virtual reconstruction of the ancient town before the volcano erupted. Live demonstrations of ancient Roman handicraft-making techniques are also done onsite, and there is also a small museum, which showcases daily objects excavated from the site.
West of Naples, there is a large volcanic area called the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields), traditionally considered as the home of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. It is quite huge, encompassing many towns and cities like Pozzuoli, Bacoli, Monte di Procida, and Quarto. It is actually known to geologists as one of the few supervolcanoes in the world, which means it can erupt thousands of times greater than ordinary volcanoes. But do tell your kids not to worry because that may not happen for many thousands of years!
Campi Flegrei offers a fascinating and unique experience for families. Solfatara, one of its 24 craters, is a dormant volcanic crater covered by a congealed lava cap. The activity underneath has turned the landscape into a steaming and bubbling terrain unlike any other. Schoolchildren usually go here to learn about geology and to see the earth in action, but that’s not to say they don’t enjoy telling their friends they’ve seen the actual home of Vulcan!
The Castel Nuovo, otherwise known as Maschio Angioino (Angevin stronghold), is Naples’ foremost architectural symbol. First built by Charles of Anjou in 1279, it has served as a center of arts and literature in the city. The castle’s most prominent exterior element is the impressive triumphal arch, which stands between its two western towers. Made entirely from marble, the arch features a relief that depicts the entry into the city of Alfonso of Aragon in 1443.
Children who are fans of fairy tale and fantasy stories are sure to enjoy having their photos taken with the castle, whose towers and crenellated battlements make it really look like the classic medieval strongholds described in their favorite stories!
To get to know the city better, one needs to check out Napoli Sotterranea – underground Naples. Aboveground, Naples is congested and abuzz with activities. Here, it’s a different world altogether. Spreading below the entire historic center of Naples, this vast underground city features early Christian burial sites, Roman roads and aqueducts, ancient markets, and air-raid shelters dating back to the Second World War.
Exploring Napoli Sotterranea is not only a great way for children to learn more about the city’s history, it will also be quite an unusual adventure they are sure to remember for years to come.
Climbing Mount Vesuvius might appeal more to energetic older kids and teens, but it’s an experience you might not want to miss when you visit Naples with your family.
You can drive or take a bus part of the way up Vesuvius, but the only way to the top is by hiking. The climb will be quite a challenge for some people, but it will be all worth it. The top offers stunning views of the crater, the city of Naples, and the Mediterranean Sea. Some parents do take smaller children with them all the way to the top, but it goes without saying that you have to keep a very close eye on the little ones.
To make the most out of your vacation in Naples, try to fit into your itineraries a visit to the nearby Isle of Capri and to Amalfi Coast. Both have gorgeous coastal and hillside towns, plus scenic beaches whose photographs will make amazing additions to your family holiday memorabilia!
About the Author
Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She’s a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients. For more on Priscila and her work, connect with her onGoogle+.Add to favorites